Grab your Mouse Ears, sunscreen, and a pair of comfy shoes-you’re headed for Orlando!
Orlando is the most popular vacation forevernostalgia destination in the world. Every year, tens of millions of people arrive by plane, car, and train to hit the theme parks, restaurants, and many other attractions of this once-rural Florida city. With so much to do and so many ways to do it, it can be easy for you-and your wallet-to get overwhelmed. But don’t worry! We are here to help.
This Disney World Savings article is the perfect way to minimize problems and maximize fun. Inside, you’ll find great tips on many of the top destinations, plus helpful information about the Orlando area. From theme parks to shopping, this is your source for vacation information for the whole family.
Disclaimer: Orlando is a constantly-changing, dynamic destination. Attractions, restaurants, rides, and more close and open throughout the year, sometimes with little to no notice. This travel guide was accurate at the time of publication and may be subject to updates throughout the year. If you have any questions or concerns about any information in this guide, please feel free to email us or call the theme parks directly.
The Walt Disney World® Resort
It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, visited by millions every year. What was once a swampy patch of Florida soil is now the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW)-a massive vacation and entertainment wonderland with four main theme parks, two water parks, 23 hotels, seven golf courses (five championship and two mini), a racetrack, sports complex, ten marinas, more than 140 places to eat, and more.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that WDW offers. Let’s take the resort one world at a time so you can plan your trip, your way.
The Magic Kingdom®
You walk through the gates and there it is, like the opening scene of your very own fairy tale-a beautiful castle at the end of a picturesque village street. Welcome to Main Street USA, the beginning of your Magic Kingdom (MK) experience.
Main Street USA is where it all begins, a perfect shop- and restaurant-lined thoroughfare that leads you to the five worlds beyond. Along the Street, you will find delightful shops featuring all the Disney merchandise you can handle, plus some specialty items like hand-blown glass ornaments (with working artisans who you can watch). Guest Services is also on Main Street; remember to stop there for dining reservations (always a good idea) and information on attractions that may be down for maintenance, parade times, special events, and anything else you might need. This is also the place for stroller and wheelchair rental.
While Main Street USA is primarily thought of as the gateway to the “real” attractions, there are some great things to do here as well, especially for those times when you need a break from the crowds and the heat. Here are our Main Picks for Main Street:
Get a haircut! No, seriously-for just under $20, you can say you got your haircut at a real, old-fashioned Barber Shop. You can even include some “magical” touches, like highlights.
Send a postcard! Stop by City Hall and mail a postcard to the folks back home. It will be stamped as coming from The Magic Kingdom; mail it to yourself for an inexpensive souvenir.
Grab your ears! The Le Chapeau shop is the best place to get those iconic ears. Now you can customize the design and build your own hat, so everyone can have their own personal set.
Ride the rails! This is a great way to relax. Use the Walt Disney World Railroad to wind your way around the park or take a trip to Frontierland. It’s a particularly great way to end the day, especially if you can time it for sunset.
Main Street USA is also the place for parades. Check with guest services for parade times and types; they can change throughout the year and for special events. Remember that the best viewing spots get taken early, so stake your concrete claim and use the time to relax.
Beyond Main Street USA, five additional worlds await: Adventureland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, and Tomorrowland. Each world has its own attractions, restaurants, and shops; let’s take them one at a time so you can plan your stops.
Adventureland: Pirates and jungle adventures are the order of the day! Explorers and swashbucklers of all ages come here for exotic entertainment, including street performers and the pirate training camp (ask a cast member where the next “class” will be). Here’s what you shouldn’t miss
A lot of people either overdo it with house gifts or they are lost and have no idea what to give as a house present. House warming gifts are not about giving luxurious gifts. Let your sense of humor and creativity come to the rescue. Part of making a memorable house gift is in making someone smile. For example, if you choose a funny painting or a beautiful home accessory, chances are they are going to stick, literally.
Here are some tips that will make your friend or a family member smile when you first come to see their home:
Tip 1: Hand made gift. We live in a highly disposable time, so your gift will have more chances to be remembered if you put an effort in making it. You can create a beautiful flower arrangement that is also simple or, if you know that your friend will enjoy making something herself, a lesson or two at an art store, such as Michael’s might be a good idea.
What if your friend is not into making things?
Tip 2: Doing something together is fun. Choose a gift for home such as home decorations that are unique. You can make it into a fun and easy project to do together. It can be offering to paint a room with your friend or helping install unique cabinet knobs that transform an old dresser. Adding pretty tiebacks to a simple drapery might change the look of the room.
Tip 3: Keep it simple. In this complicated world, nothing makes people smile more than a reference to something familiar and nostalgic, such as childhood years. Warm their heart with a naïve and primitive gift. Don’t be afraid to express yourself with your gift. It might be something silly, goofy or childish as a reminder that people should not take life so seriously at all times but rather loosen up and have some fun.
Tip 4: If they have pets. Nothing beats a thoughtful gift for a pet. An interesting and unique gift for a dog will put a smile on your friend’s face as well as give you immediate joy.
Don’t hesitate to express yourself. Many people are so concerned with pleasing others that they get stressed and end up with gift cards or even cash money instead of gifts. I do not think it is a good idea to give gift money or gift certificates to friends or remote family members since money means something different to each person. If you are thoughtful and sincere about choosing your gift, your intention will shine through in most cases. It is one of the biggest pleasures in life to share your emotions with others.
Many people stress about making house gifts, but Marina Klima Goldberg, interior designer, CAPS says that house gifts can be enjoyable if you think about creative ways to approach the gift-giving process. Visit her interior design blog to find out more.